That’s the average annual wage for all occupations in Montana…or at least was a few years ago.
The national average is $46,440.
$39,000 divided by 12 comes out to $3,250 a month.
That’s $812 a week. $116 a day.
Pretty good. Helluva lot better than what many people I know are making.
Take the minimum wage. $8.15 an hour. That comes to $65.20 for an 8-hour shift.
$326 a week. $1,304 a month. $15,648 a year.
If you were making minimum wage and working full-time, you’d be making $23,000 less than the average annual wage in Montana.
Conservatives often pipe-up and say, ‘Well, minimum wage jobs are entry-point jobs and aren’t meant to be permanent.” Sometimes they’ll claim that only teenagers have these kinds of jobs.
Both of these points are wrong.
First of all, how would fast food businesses stay open during the day if they only employed teenagers…who should be in school during those times?
And second…from Friday to Sunday, I worked with over two dozen people that were making minimum wage, the same as me. I think the youngest of those two dozen was probably 25-years-old.
Neither I nor anyone else clocked-in a solid 8-hours, either.
There was no $65.20 that day. No $326 for the week, no $1,304 for the month and certainly no $15,648 for the year.
Not a lot of money in the pocket, and many, many Montanans can say the same.
This is the issue that binds us.
While we have much that can separate us – religion, race, sexual orientation – the one thing we all have in common is the need for money.
We gotta eat. We need shelter. And then there’s the ‘wants’ list.
To get what we want, we have to work. Building up skills through schooling and self-teaching is a great way to move up in the workforce, and boost your pay.
Moving to more lucrative locations is also an option, one many young Montanans employ.
But for those that stay here, even increased skills and school certificates don’t always ensure you’ll be paid more.
Lots of Missoula minimum wage workers have a college degree. I’m one of ‘em.
So it’s tough, and it shows no sign of changing.
From 1973 to 2015, American worker productivity grew by 72%. Wages, on the other hand, went up just 9% during that time. That comes out to a 0.2% pay increase each year, and when productivity was increasing 1.3% a year.
By 2014 more than 47 million Americans were living in poverty, or nearly 15% of the country.
In Montana, the poverty rate is 16.5%.
I don’t know why businesses don’t pay more. I think a big part is that workers are a dime-a-dozen. Businesses don’t value their employees. Pay reflects that.
And good luck asking for a raise. I did that with one job in January and was promptly let go.
A lot of people don’t even bother asking for a raise. They know the answer would be ‘no.’
So it’s frustrating and it causes worries and makes people fight. 35% of married couples say money issues cause stress in their relationship.
That’s really the only way you can get by on the minimum wage…if you’re married or together.
Then the $8.15 an hour effectively becomes $16.30 an hour. $652 a week. $2,608 a month. $31,296 a year.
Still $7,700 less than the national average.
Maybe this article has bored you. Alas, we’re not going to see substantive political change in this country until more people start talking about this issue.